The Harlem Line
LINE CAN TRACE ITS ROOTS BACK to the original New York & Harlem Railroad charter in 1831. The
charter was for a line to run from 23rd Street to the northern tip of Manhattan. At that
time, 23rd Street was too far north for most people, so the charter was changed to start
the line at Prince Street. In 1852, the line reached 131 miles north to Chatham where it
connected with the Boston & Albany line (when the new Grand Central was built,
this mileage would change to 127). In 1862 it was bought by Commodore Vanderbilt and
became a part of his empire that would include the Hudson River Railroad and the
original New York Central railroad.
...In 1972, passenger service to
Chatham was quickly abandoned by the Penn Central and the rails north of Millerton,
New York were removed. A decade later, more rail was removed and the line terminated at
Wassaic, New York. Under the 1971 contract with the MTA, passenger service remained
as far as Dover Plains, 77 miles from Grand Central Terminal. Metro-North took over from Conrail in 1983. In 1985,
Thornwood station was removed as electrification was extended to Brewster. Today,
Metro-North has restored direct service to Grand Central from
Wassaic (three trains in each direction) and has a shuttle service
from Wassaic to Brewster North, where hourly service is provided through to Grand
Central. The Southeast station (north of the village of Brewster and
Putnam Junction Yard) is conveniently located near the
Carmel exit on Interstate 84, just west of the interchange with I-684.
...Metro-North restored passenger service on
the Harlem Line from Dover Plains to Wassaic, New York in 2000. This provided a
welcome alternative to the congested auto route 22 and the Taconic State Parkway. Chuck
Brandt has contributed photographs
from the 1950s when the upper Harlem was busy with freight and
to the Harlem Line was addition of a third main track from CP 113 in
Mount Vernon to CP 117 north of the Crestwood station.
The third track was necessary to expand
service on the northern portion of the Harlem Line.
...The Harlem Line no longer
extends to Prince Street in lower Manhattan, but if you walk south on Park Avenue from Grand Central Terminal, you will notice an
automobile tunnel bypass. This tunnel was built by the New York and Harlem Railroad!
Before the current Grand Central Terminal was built, passenger coaches were detached from
locomotives and pulled to Prince Street by horses. You can't travel downtown by horse
drawn coach today but you can take the Subway .
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November 10, 2010